James and Anita Baker.—Image: contributed

Lake Country couple to be recognized with heritage award

James, Anita Baker will receive the Central Okanagan Heritage Society’s Distinguished Service Award

James and Anita Baker will receive the Central Okanagan Heritage Society’s 2018 Distinguished Community Service Award in recognition of their long-time support of heritage in the Central Okanagan.

James, the mayor of Lake Country, and Anita, who served as treasurer for the Friends of Fintry, both served on the organization’s board, helped run programs and raised money to restore buildings in Fintry Heritage Park.

They also supported and raised money for the Lake Country Museum.

As an anthropology and archeology professor before entering civic politics, James brought his expertise to the Kelowna Museum to assist with an archeology exhibit and was was instrumental in discovering and excavating Father Pandosy’s grave. Beyond his teaching career, he acted as an instructor for the People to People program, where American students learn about Aboriginal cultures of Western Canada.

The award is one of several the society will hand out Wednesday as national Heritage Week celebrations are marked in the Central Okanagan.

This year’s Heritage Awards will take place at a special luncheon at the Benvoulin Heritage Church in Kelowna and will mark the 34th anniversary of the awards.

Other awards will go to the Henry family for their work on restoring their Glenmore area Arts and Crafts-style 1929 home on Mountain Avenue. They will receive their award for a conservation project on a heritage building currently in residential use.

The award for continued conservation of a heritage building will go to the Winter family for their work to preserve and upgrade their 1939 Kelowna home. The house was built by Ernie Winter, who lived there until 1998. Winter was well-known in Kelowna for his plumbing and heating business and he served on city council for 14 years.

The award for continued conservation of a heritage building will go to Andre and Lynette de Zwaan for the Whitehead House on Burne Avenue in Kelowna. The award recognizes the high quality of the building’s exterior preservation and maintenance over the years in keeping with its original design and structure. The 1911 house was built by J.B. Whitehead who owned it until 1940. In 1948, it was bought by the well-known Ritchie family, which started Ritchie Brothers Auctioneers, one of the largest auction companies in the country.

The award for preservation or restoration of a neighbourhood or area will go to the pioneer section of the Kelowna Memorial Park Cemetery, the oldest operating cemetery in the city, established in 1892. A project started in 2005 set out to place grave markers on hundreds of unmarked graves in the Pioneer Cemetery. While 135 markers have been placed, another 500 unmarked graves are still being researched for future markers.

A large monument has also been added to the pioneer section with an inscription of the government’s apology to the Asian community for the unfair treatment members of the early Chinese community in B.C. experienced.

The special heritage project award will recognize the Lake Country’s Apple Box Belles.

The Apple Box Belles tells the story of the packing houses of Lake Country through the women who packed apples by hand in the various packing plants there from the early 1900s until the late 1950s.

Apples were originally packed by women in the field of their own farms. But, with the growth of orchards, packing houses were established. Men worked in them at first but with the onset of the First World War, women took over the packing. They worked fast, sometimes up to 10 hours a day but were paid less than the men. So, after the war, women were kept on at the packing houses.

The story of the Apple Box Belles also tells of how more women were able to work during the Great Depression and how camaraderie and friendly competitions kept the women’s spirits up. A strike in1955 brought more money for women on the line, but mechanization and new methods eventually ended the era of skilled apple packers.

A virtual museum now chronicles the Apple Box Belles and includes old photographs of both the exterior and interior of the packing houses, video of the women who packed the apples and stories of the industry told through biographical accounts of several workers.

You can visit the virtual museum on your home computer here.

To report a typo, email: edit@kelownacapnews.com.



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